The most magical night of the year is coming soon. Many of you will be with your loved ones to celebrate Christmas together. This meeting always raises several questions. Today I want to support you with the key themes to celebrate an entertaining dinner.
The celebration of Christmas for many of us has an important religious aspect. That is why we are applying traditions of our grandparents and parents for a festive and spiritual dinner. And for everyone it is an enormous opportunity to get together with your family, even with those loved ones that for different reasons we do not see often. Also, for foodies and wine lovers it is a great opportunity to show off all your experience and taste. Now, the steps to prepare an easy, rich and entertaining Christmas gathering.
1. Plan in advance
It is the most important step of all. Take a sheet of paper and pencil and design your Christmas Eve dinner. How many people are you going to invite? Do you have enough wine glasses or do you need to rent them? What will be the menu and the pairings? When do you need to do the shopping? When to start with the preparations of the dishes? Are you going to have gifts for everyone? What do you want to give this year?
This exercise allows you to see things from a broader perspective. A tip: do not complicate the table. Keep things simple. Have two glasses per person, one for water and one for wine. Choose a universal cup for reds, it will also work for whites. If you plan to uncork several wines, I suggest that the guests can rinse their glass with water between each wine. It is not too elegant, but perfection is the enemy of the practical, especially if you have a big family.
Apart from the delicious menu that you are going to offer that day and the pairings, the table itself deserves a little more time and concern. There are several decorating ideas on the internet. Some can look very complicated if you have no experience with DIY crafts. Some designers suggest the creation of beautiful and modern tables, such as the very chic monochromatic style. But … you would have to spend a lot of money on new plates, glasses, tablecloths, etc. I keep it simple. I like white and solemn dishes, and glasses made of crystal or good glass. In this case, the most important thing is the size. Here is my proposal:
- Each individual space must be equally perfect and elegant. Place a large flat plate as a base and on it the plate of the first course. For example, a dish for soup or entree. On one side, place the cutlery and on the head the glasses. On a plate, put napkins. If you have fabric, super. Otherwise, some cute paper ones with Christmas motifs. Add some personal touch, like a nice red ribbon with a branch of rosemary to ring the napkins. A tip: you know who gets along with whom. Decide the positions in advance. It is a night where harmony must reign. You can put a walnut with the name of the diner on the napkin. Or if you want to show your love for wine, place a small red apple or tangerine. Pinch it with a toothpick with a cork on the other end where you can write the name of your guest. Several countries have their rituals with the number of chairs. In Poland, you always leave an empty chair just in case a traveler or lonely person knocks on your door.
- Many of you wonder about the color theme. Actually, follow the colors that you already have in your home. Several apply Christmas motifs. White as a metaphor for snow; light blue resembles ice; red and green, the classics associated with the Christmas tree; gold and silver to give a kitsch touch.
- The decoration of the table can occupy all the themes you want: Santa Claus, Snow Man, Reindeer Rudolph, etc. According to your personal taste. I always prepare a eco wave decoration. In a large glass fountain (which in my house serves to collect the corks from the bottles we enjoyed during the year) put a large candle, the thickest you can find and hopefully beeswax. Around the candle, place cinnamon sticks, nuts, pine cones, rosemary branches and slices of orange dehydrated in the oven. Also, in several places on the table place some oranges punctured with cloves. For me, it’s the Christmas aromas.
3. Food and wine
Each house has its favorite Christmas dishes. In Poland, my country of origin, twelve dishes are prepared for each one of Jesus’ apostles. That’s why I’m not going to suggest recipes. Nevertheless, I want to ask you to occupy all those traditional flavors and aromas. I love the customs of the North and East of Europe, where there is no lack of dishes with mushrooms and fish. And to sweeten the night, poppy seeds desserts, spices, ginger and candied fruit. If you have no idea how to incorporate these ingredients, prepare a simple ginger bread or dried fruit loaf.
As for the wines, I always recommend having a good representation of several styles. Start with sparkling wine; follow with a very versatile white like Trio Chardonnay and a pink one like Casillero del Diablo Rosé; then a medium-bodied red, like Casillero del Diablo Merlot, which pairs very well with dishes of different textures and flavors, from turkey or tuna medallion, to vegetarian preparations, and then end with a sweet wine for dessert to celebrate family love. An unforgettable Christmas Eve.